Brazil’s Defense Minister, Waldir Pires, has condemned the pressure exerted by American authorities on Brazil to let go the American pilots who had their US passports confiscated after colliding with a Boeing 737 causing the worst aviation accident ever in Brazil, with 154 deaths.
Pires called the American action "inopportune and useless" since the decision do detain the pilots came from the judiciary and not from the Brazilian government.
The minister also commented that he cannot believe to be true news published in the American press informing that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will contact him so that he may intercede on behalf of pilots Joseph Lepore and Jan Paladin.
"This would be inadmissible. The natural channel for contact in this case would be the diplomatic one, via the Foreign Relations Ministry, and not the Defense minister," he said.
On Saturday, October 7, the minister visited the teams working in the search effort for the bodies still missing. The teams include military personnel, firemen, coroners, doctors and paramedics.
Until the end of Saturday 117 bodies had been located. The teams were reinforced today with 100 Army men since the fast decomposition of the bodies is making the task harder and harder every day. Thirty seven bodies haven’t been located yet.
After meeting those involved in the search, Pires praised their work: "These men have been working with dedication and civic bravery in totally adverse conditions. The operation has been conducted with much success.".
The plan for today is to have a complete sweep of the dense forest area where the plane fell down, going over each square foot of the area, in a radius of 2 miles around the place the largest piece of the airplane was found and where the main clearing for the search was opened.
"We will do everything we can so that all the bodies can be found, identified and handed over to their families for burial," stated the minister.
Inquiry Still Going On
Air Force Commander, Lieutenant Air Brigadier Luiz Carlos da Silva Bueno, said today that Brazil still has not enough elements to decide who is to be blamed for the Boeing accident. On Saturday the Brazilian press had informed that the Air Force was already certain that the American pilots were responsible for the air tragedy.
"The investigations are being done to prevent future accidents," he said. "We still cannot blame anyone."
On Saturday, Bueno had stated that soon after the accident the Cindacta (Air Defense and Air Traffic Control Integrated Center) with help from the Air Space Control Department did a simulation using the same route of the planes involved in the accident. The simulated exercise, according to Bueno, proved that there was no communication problem related to the Cindacta system.
Brasília’s Coroner’s Office has identified today another 23 victims of the Boeing accident. Out of the 87 bodies that have already arrived into the IML (Instituto Médico Legal – Forensic Medicine Institute) 61 have been identified, 31 of which have already been claimed by their families.